The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The FountainheadThe Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I can’t say enough how much I disliked this book. It’s so bad I felt physically ill after finishing it (and yes I did choose to finish it anyway, because how else could I form a comprehensive opinion, especially if I don’t at least give it the chance to redeem itself?)

Having never heard of Ayn Rand, or read anything by her or about her, my AP English teacher suggested reading one of her novels for a short essay competition being hosted by the Ayn Rand society. I read “The Fountainhead” with no predispositions other than the vague awareness that it was probably famous since the author had her own society, and that presumably the book was food for thought since it was sponsoring an essay competition.

Where to start? The plot is pathetic and uninteresting; the characters are a paradoxical combination of everything unappealing about humanity while still managing to lack any semblance of humanity or depth; the romance is embarrassing; the writing in terrible, and comes across as smugly self-satisfied; and on a personal level I also found the philosophies it advocates as offensive, though I guess you could argue that’s more a reaction to Ayn Rand herself than to her book.

In fairness, though, it’s difficult to separate the two. She puts a lot of herself into her novel. Without the author’s overwhelming presence, I’m not sure it would be much of a novel though.

But really, my biggest complaint about TF is that it doesn’t achieve what it sets out to do. (The HON phrase “tryhard” comes to mind). I feel, mostly, that it’s trying for greatness and not succeeding in any category. Ironically, this sets it apart from supposedly “trashy” books – think airpoint lounge shops – which don’t try to be anything other than a timesink, and succeed admirably; the distinction does TF no favours.

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